We had a chance to sit down with Shaun Eller, Vice President of Ohio Gratings, to talk about the manufacture and application of industrial grating in the heavy construction industry.
This was a hasty transcript, please excuse any typos.
Matt Register: Hey guys, welcome back to Texas Business Radio. Go and get your calls in at 844-814-8144 to our 24 hour call in line. I mean get your calls in now, get your calls in later. Make it 3 o’clock in the morning, really doesn’t matter to us. We’re going to get the experts on here to get those questions answered. Now we’re talking logistics today. And you know we have a studio full of folks, I think you’re really going to find interesting. I know I do. And hopefully you will as well. We’re going to jump right into it. I’m your host Matt Register. Jay Curry had to step out. He’s going to join us here in just a minute. Ohio Gratings. I know this is Texas Business Radio, Ohio Gratings is a great company. They have massive operations here in Texas. So we have here in the studio, Shaun Eller, the Vice President of Ohio Gratings. Shaun welcome to the show.
Shaun Eller: Thank you Matt.
Matt Register: Tell me about Ohio Gratings. What do you do and who do you do it to.
Shaun Eller: All right. Ohio Gratings is a full line metal bar grating manufacturer. We manufacture aluminum, stainless steel and carbon steel grating. It’s used a lot and historically has been used in industrial flooring and catwalks.
Matt Register: Sure.
Shaun Eller: Refineries, any type of industrial flooring. How Gratings was founded in 1970 by David Bartley Sr. and it’s a privately held company owned by John and David Bartley. We opened operations starting in 1970 with 8,000 square foot fabrication facility. David Senior would… they said he would weld all night. Answer the phone all day. Since then the two sons John and David have taken ownership of the company and have expanded it to full line manufacturer with facilities in Ridgeland South Carolina, Houston Texas and then the main facility in Kent Ohio. We also have sales offices in Kansas City Missouri and in Alabama.
Matt Register: God bless America. That’s what it’s all about. And we’d love to hear about growing companies. Now this is grating you know, like you said you would see in catwalks, you would see on various walkways. Right?
Shaun Eller: Yes sir.
Matt Register: But you guys do more than that now, right? You’ve expanded into some some really cool things.
Shaun Eller: Yeah we’ve done a lot of innovative practices with grating and that’s one of the things that’s so exciting. Been with the company 22 years and I’ve never had a dull moment. Can’t think of the last time I was bored or looking for something to do.
Matt Register: Sure.
Shaun Eller: But trying to take grating and innovate it into more than just a commodity light duty steel walkway product used in refineries and make it something that the architects want to put on the side of buildings. Hand-rail in-fill so kids don’t fall through hand-rail But you know make it make a product that’s mass produced that fits into that application using it for sunscreens. Got the church I go to in Pearland, we put grating sunscreens and actually the trash enclosure is a louver grate versus the the concrete or wood ones that you see block in dumpsters. So a very nice powder coated aluminum sunscreen or I’m sorry, enclosure to block that. So taking grating from something that was historically just industrial flooring, industrial catwalk and turning into something that architects and engineers can use. Another example we’ve came up with wheels and heels is a patented product.
Matt Register: OK.
Shaun Eller: One of the, New York City if you ever been there they drive on the sidewalks and walk on the streets. And not quite figured that one out but due to that, you know, if you put a pedestrian grating on the sidewalks, you know, they pull a truck up on it and ruin it. That’s not made for those loads.
Matt Register: Sure.
Shaun Eller: Or if they put a truck rated grading it’s got broad openings and therefore that doesn’t you know suit well for a lady in high heels. So we came up with what we call wheels and heels grading It’s actually able to handle wheel loads and it’s also very close bars so that it’s 88 compliant American with disability act. Wheelchairs, high heels friendly. And coming up with a product like that, that has really, you know, helped transform the grating industry.
Matt Register: Wow. That’s, you know, during a break you’re show me a video some of those operations, right? I mean this is a fab shop. This is a custom shop. I mean you guys are custom designing stuff. You have some things that are production lines that are being mass produced. Fascinating. Really there’s a whole lot more to the grating business than I ever imagined right. Just in five minutes you were able to show me that. I want to talk to you a little bit about some of the logistics involved because there’s a lot of things moving all over the country.
Shaun Eller: Yes sir.
Matt Register: Involved in this not only on the raw material side. Right? So you guys have some decisions to make. There is if you have decisions to make. Where are we going to make this?
Shaun Eller: Correct.
Matt Register: Right? How we’re going to get the raw materials and what raw materials we’re going to get to the front door of our shop. And then on the how do we ship it out of here. Right? You have decisions as well. Right?
Shaun Eller: Yes sir.
Matt Register: Walk me through a little bit of that because you guys are using planes, trains, automobiles, you know, everything to to make this stuff happen, right?
Shaun Eller: Yes sir. You know one of the things about grating is usually it’s the last thing to go into a facility.
Matt Register: OK.
Shaun Eller: And until they, you know, they get an occupancy permit they can’t start operations. So they’re under construction loan. They need to open up so they can begin to, you know, make money on the turn. That’s why they built it. When we were founded we came out with a motto make it right and ship when promised. And that’s been what we hold very dear because they need that grating, you know, when we promised it.
Matt Register: By the time they get to the point they need your product. Everybody is always late and in a hurry.
Matt Register: That’s absolutely right. A lot of times we don’t get the measurements until the steels erected, till the concrete poured. And now that, you know, the only thing blocking that hole is they need the gratings. So that makes it, you know, timeliness is very, very critical in our industry and it’s something we’re very, very passionate about. We’re very committed to on time delivery and it does create a lot of logistical decisions that we have to make. Which plant has the, you know, capacity right now to get the job done in time. Do we need to move operation or fabrication of a certain job to a different facility. Having multiple facilities allows us to make those decisions. You know, ultimately to make sure we take care of our customer and that’s really what we’re focused on.
Matt Register: Well we were talking during the break and I know you guys are in the process of of getting a rail spur on, you know, that’s co-located with your location here in Texas.
Shaun Eller: That’s in Ohio.
Matt Register: Oh, in Ohio. How is that going to change your decision making when when it comes to some of the logistical decisions.
Shaun Eller: That’s a great question, because it gives us an opportunity to move a lot more tons much more efficiently. It’s a little slower but we have enough movement of standard products that we’re able to buffer that between our truck and rail and balance it out so that we can do more tons at less cost.
Matt Register: Yeah it’s a whole lot cheaper though, right?
Shaun Eller: Yes sir. Much cheaper to run you know a lot more pounds on a rail car than on a truck. So it gives us the opportunity where we can move material much less expensively for the standard products. And then you know we still have the opportunity and the option of moving things with trucks for the stuff that is more customized or needs to move quicker.
Matt Register: Yeah your custom stuff… that probably is not going to affect a whole lot of your standard stuff where you can just slightly increase inventory to overcome the difference and in shipping times correct it’s probably going to make a very significant difference.
Shaun Eller: We believe so. We’re very excited about it.
Matt Register: Yeah, Wonderful. Well you guys are a growing company. You’re doing great stuff. I had absolutely no idea there was so much involved in grating, industrial or architectural or otherwise. Right? So a very interesting company where can somebody learn more about you guys should they want to.
Shaun Eller: You know the greatest place to be the Web site www.Ohiogratings.com on there’s connection to Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn and all the other social media avenues that we have available. That you know the Web site has a place where you can get download our catalog, requests to catalog, get your paper copy. Lots of case studies. That is one of things I love on the Web site is case studies show, highlighting different projects we’ve done. Sure some of the commercial architectural jobs we’ve done have been very exciting. Some great pictures of them in just a different look at what grating can be.
Matt Register: Well they got a project that is an art project that will blow your mind that you can you can see on there that that is pretty cool. Sean Eller thank you very much for joining us on the show.
It’s been my pleasure.
Hey, no problem. Ohiogratings.com. Guys as always there is no reason to take notes. We’re gonna have links to everybody we’re talking to right there on the Web site Texasbusinessradio.com. If you haven’t been there, you need to go there. We have everything we do is in beautiful high definition video. Links to everybody we’re talking to there’s a wealth of information on there. Get there. Check it out. Take a look, see what you think. Guys we got to go to a break. We’re going to be back right on the other end. We were just getting warmed up. We got more logistics, talking logistics today. It’s exciting to me. Hopefully you’ll find it exciting as well. We’ll be back right after this.
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In addition to hosting "Texas Business Radio," Matt is an investment banker and serial entrepreneur from Montgomery, Texas. He is the owner of RREA Media and Register Real Estate Advisors and a Managing Director and Principal at Corporate Finance Associates. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Rice University in Houston. You can read more about Matt HERE.